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Digital and physical games bought online make up 45% of UK games market

New data shows just how important online and digital sales have become.

Dark blue icons of video game controllers on a light blue background
Image credit: Eurogamer

As GAME fights for its future, new sales data released today highlights the shift in how we buy games in the UK.

GAME Group has faced a difficult 12 months as strong competition from online shops, including Amazon and Play, and supermarkets, has made its mark. Game publishers and even game makers now sell games digitally direct to consumers, with the likes of Valve's Steam and EA's Origin hugely successful.

And then there is the rise of mobile and tablet gaming, a market GAME isn't involved with.

Now, new data published by the Entertainment Retail Association shows just how important online and digital sales have become.

According to data from Chart-Track and Screen Digest, UK digital sales of games were worth £504 million in 2011 compared with digital music sales of £333m and digital video sales of £97 million. Online and mobile delivery accounts for 26 per cent of games.

As expected, physical formats saw sharp declines in sales. In the games sector, only sales of Xbox 360 games were up (3.3 per cent).

Kim Bayley, Director General of ERA, said: "Online and mobile are doing very well, and this reflects the huge investment, much of it by retailers, in producing new products and services. Physical formats still account for the vast majority of entertainment sales - 80 per cent of albums are still sold on CD - but lack of investment and innovation in physical product means it is increasingly under pressure."

Growing sales of online and mobile downloads have combined with surging sales by home delivery services led by Amazon to put pressure on physical store outlets, the ERA said.

Digital and physical product bought online or via mobile now accounts for 45 per cent of the games market.

Meanwhile, ERA data showed that video games overtook video as the UK's biggest entertainment category for the first time.

Downloads and app sales helped make up for declining console game sales and boosted the UK game market to £1926 million in 2011, well ahead of video on £1802 million and music on £1066 million.

Games made up 40.2 per cent of the entertainment market. Video made up 37.6 per cent, music 22.2 per cent.

However, for the first 11 weeks of 2012, physical video sales were worth more than double physical video game sales.

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